[Advaita-l] Why karma phala-s are not instantaneous

M. S. Ravisankar ravi at ambaa.org
Tue Aug 26 19:13:12 CDT 2003

Some possible reasons are:

a) Life is not a matter of a simple sequence of karma and phala. It is a
complex inter-related sequences of actions and results. Judgements and
decisions has to be weighted against many factors and time plays a crucial
role in it. Mahaabhaarata gives a wonderful illustration of this complex
interactions and the nonlinearity in life that plays out over 3 or 4

b) One's current condition may not be suitable for fruition of certain karma
phalas. Assuming you are man and certain action of yours require that your
experience something as a woman, then possibly you will have to wait till
that happens.

c) Based on #b certain results will have to wait for the appropriate birth
to happen. Thus this accumulation will lead to the purva karma that is
operational (prArabdha) and that is stored and has two wait for the right
circumstances. Thus creating a chain of events linked in a complex manner.

d) Not just the nature of the birth and lack appropriates of vaasana-s to
put the karma phala into play, sometimes even conflicting  nature of results
of different actions  would make it necessary to store some and put some
into action.

e) Swarga and Naraka has its purpose. But this punishment and reward scheme
will not always result in a moral evolution of a soul. To give crude
example, if a man rapes a woman. You can punish him and put him prison or
execute him. He still may not repent for his act that caused suffering. You
always see criminals get hardened and even worsened after their jail term.
On the other hand, placing the same person in a situation that would teach
him that causing suffering goes against the very grain of one's inner divine
nature would be far more fruitful.

Using the word of saankhya, kaaramaashaya and vaasana-s play an
inter-related role. And working on the field of vaasana-s of a soul through
appropriate circumstances and fructification of karma, God leads the moral
evolution of a jiiva.

If you want to know what saankhya/yoga's take on this, please refer to Swami
Hariharananda Aranya's translation and notes on Yoga sutra-s with vyAsa
bhaashya. He takes up this matter quite extensively. That may help your


> >
> >why one has to *wait* to reap the fruit of his karma no
> >matter it is good or bad!!!  For example, if someone cuts another's
> hand,
> >he should be punished *immediately* according to karma phala nyAya.
> One
> >should not wait many janmAs or many years to reap the fruit of his
> *pApa /
> >puNya
> >kArya-s*.  If the karma phala is immediate, my friend thinks there will
> be
> >no
> >crimes, no cheating in the world due to *fear* of instant *shocks* &
> >*returns* from the karma being carried out.  In addition, why one has
> to
> >carry prarabda karma & suffer coz. of it in subsequent janma-s, when
> swarga
> >& naraka are there to exhaust our punya/paapa karya phala.
> >
> >I tried to answer him through prarabda karma, sanchita karma theories
> etc.
> >I've given him example that even a plant takes its own time to grow, we
> >cannot expect result immediately etc. Since he is not an atheist,
> finally I
> >had to take shelter under bhagavad iccha / leela etc.  I could not
> answer
> >his questions convincingly from his level of understanding.  I donot
> want
> >to drag him to the advaita zone with loukika & pAramArtika views :-))
> >

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